Over the last two decades, India leveraged the forces of globalization to generate high levels of economic growth, but translating that growth into broad-based, sustainable development outcomes is an ongoing challenge. Today, as the country faces slowing growth rates following the Great Recession, a growing budget deficit, and more intense global competition from other emerging economies, India’s central economic challenge lies in upgrading the skills of its workforce. With a majority of Indian workers still relegated to low-paying, low-value added activities, the transition to high-quality, productive jobs is critical to both the country’s economic agenda – maintaining competitiveness and boosting growth – and its social agenda – improving quality of life for the poor and other marginalized groups.
The Government of India introduced the National Skill Development Policy in 2009 to accelerate the pace of skill development toward a goal of skilling 500 million people by 2022. This policy aims to work with the private sector to build an inclusive system of training for the labor force. In addition to the government initiative there are a vast array of for-profit companies, grassroots organizations and educational institutes attempting to respond to the skills training imperative.
The JustJobs Network aims to provide relevant, practical policy recommendations toward harnessing skill development as a channel for more and better jobs in India. With an estimated 300 million youth entering the labor force between 2007 and 2025 and a current training capacity of only 3.1 million per year – to say nothing of training quality – increasing the India’s ability to provide effective vocational education remains a great challenge. Understanding the most effective ways to meet this challenge requires new and innovative research.